Some people in Las Vegas are quick to contend that smoking, bars, and entertainment are inextricably linked together. After all, how better can one relax? It’s just the right thing to do, right?
But for almost three years a Nevada voter-approved no-smoking law has been in effect that prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars that serve food, slot machine areas of grocery sorters, arcades and about every public place except the gaming areas of casinos. Though the law exists, it has very little bit to it, with few even getting a citation.
Now that measure is headed for a legislative showdown. And when the smoke settles, smokers may just be headed out to light cigs in their favorite watering hole to the delight of bar and tavern owners.
The Nevada Senate voted 14-5 last Friday to advance bill SB372 that would allow adults to smoke in bars that serve food effective December 9. The bill is also expected to be received well by the Assembly.
Business owners contend the smoking ban was responsible for closing 47 bars in Clark County and the loss of hundreds and jobs. They further said profits are off 15 to 50 percent and their customer based has dropped by 25 percent.
The smoking ban also lost $41 million for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority when a cigar and smokers’ convention moved to New Orleans where patrons could smoke on the convention floor.
The Nevada Tavern Owners’ Association has further challenged the constitutionality of the smoking ban in an April 6 lawsuit awaiting the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision.
However, anti-smoking advocates contend that tavern and bar owners are ignoring the fact that the economy has bone into a recession, using the ban as a scapegoat for business failure.
Adding water to dowse the cigs, opponents say, smoking is just plain deadly, citing studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that show smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion a year in lost productivity.